This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Tuesday, May 26, 2015:
In his decision to issue a temporary injunction against the District of Columbia and its police chief, Cathy Lanier, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin is closing the circle on the last resistors in the long war against guns. It should now be called “the war to restore the Second Amendment.”
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller v. the District of Columbia in 2008 that “the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm … for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home,” the ruling council in DC thought they’d found a way to restrict gun ownership: ban all guns everywhere in the District except inside the home.
That’s when the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) sued the District in Palmer v. District of Columbia over that ban. The District did everything in its power to put off the day of judgment with appeals, motions to dismiss, clarifications, and other legal maneuvers. After five years of stalling, delaying, and dithering, however, U.S. District Court Judge Scullin ruled last July that the ban was unconstitutional. Within months, the anti-gunners controlling the District’s council enacted a draconian set of rules making it virtually impossible for a law-abiding citizen, despite the Heller and Palmer decisions, to obtain a concealed carry permit.
The SAF sued again, this time on behalf of Brian Wrenn, a citizen of DC who tried without success to obtain a concealed carry permit. Having given up appealing the Palmer decision, the District focused all of its firepower on Wrenn v. District of Columbia. Lawyers claimed that its rules to obtain that permit were deliberately made extremely difficult in order to reduce crime. Scullin noted their intentions in his opinion:
Defendants [the District] argue that the … requirements [are designed to reduce] the number of concealed weapons in public in order to reduce the risks to other members of the public and to reduce the disproportionate use of such weapons in the commission of violent crimes.
Scullin saw through the fraud and sham, noting that the law applied only to law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights, not to criminals, and so their argument was false on its face:
Defendants have failed to demonstrate that there is any relationship … between reducing the risk to other members of the public and/or violent crime and the District’s “good reason”/”proper reason” requirement.
Scullin was referring to the portions of the law governing the application process that held that the chief of police [Lanier] “may … issue a license to such person to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person [provided that] the applicant has good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property, or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol, and that he or she is a suitable person to be so licensed.” (emphases added)
The applicant would have to show, and provide proof, that his or her life was being threatened, or had already been threatened, by providing sworn affidavits of reports he or she has already made to the police or to the courts in the District. Just living in a high crime area wasn’t sufficient reason, according to the law: “The fact that a person resides in or is employed in a high crime area shall not by itself establish a good reason to fear injury to person or property for the issuance of a concealed carry license.”
Alan Gottlieb, founder and Executive Vice President of SAF, was pleased with the decision, calling it a “devastating loss for the District and its anti-gun-rights policy,” adding:
We’re delighted with the judge’s ruling because, once again, the court has thwarted the District’s blatantly obvious effort to discourage the exercise of Second Amendment rights by forcing applicants to jump through a series of hoops and then frustrat[ing] them by requiring an arbitrary “good reason” for the exercise of a constitutionally protected civil right.
Although the injunction is temporary, Scullin has set July 7 as the date for “final resolution” of the matter, which is his way of saying that he will be glad to hear any final arguments from either side before making his temporary injunction permanent. As of last Monday, the District is now a “shall-issue” jurisdiction, just like the rest of the country. It also adds to the lengthening list of other victories recently reported in Tennessee, Kansas, and elsewhere.
There will no doubt be an appeal by DC’s anti-gun council, but its position as the anti-gun capitol of the US, surpassed only by Chicago’s, continues to weaken in light of the paradigm shift in public opinion over the importance of the Second Amendment. As the bumper sticker says: “The Second Amendment: the One that Insures all the Others.”